Popular Weight-Loss Surgery in Children Shown to Weaken Bones

Photo: (Photo : Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels)

Despite weight-loss surgery helping obese children, a study showed how this specific operation can have harmful effects and can weaken bones. 

Obesity is a major public health concern that is also on the rise in children, where nearly one in five people aged 2 to 19 years old is obese. That is a major health concern because it adds to the risk of having other ailments and health problems like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer instances. Although there are ways where obese children can lose weight, like diet and lifestyle changes, others are still choosing to have operations to resolve this health problem faster. They turn to weight-loss surgeries that are indeed helpful in losing weight. 

These weight-loss surgeries are being done and performed in children and adults to resolve this particular health problem.

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Results of the study

The study results showed a need to prevent weakened bones in children who went to have surgery for weight-loss. Also, MRI and CT exams showed the harmful effects a common weight-loss surgery has on children's bones based on the research to be shared at the coming virtual RSNA 2020 conference

With weight-loss surgery, about 75% of the stomach is removed to restrict food intake and induce weight loss. It leads to around the stomach, taking the shape of a tube or sleeve. And from 2005-2014, the number of procedures performed on children has increased 100-fold. 

The study observed 52 children with mild to severe cases of obesity. Twenty-six of them went to have weight-loss surgery. The other 26 of them were put in the control group. Based on recent studies, bone marrow fat responds to health changes and may serve as a substance for bone quality. So, the patients went under a test to detect their tissue changes to measure their spine's bone marrow fat. 

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A year later, children who went under the weight-loss surgery lost 34kg while there was no particular change in weight for those in the control group. But compared to those children in the control group, the children who went under the medical process of weight-loss had a specific increase in their bone marrow fat and had shown signs that can weaken bones. 

Losing body fat and bone loss

Despite losing body fat, those children had bone loss and increased their bone marrow fat. And although the medical process of weight-loss is helpful for weight-loss, it can weaken bones. 

Aside from the effect of weakening bones, it can also ruin hormones and nutrients essential for bone health. 

Based on the experts, they said they need to find a way to help prevent bone loss in those patients and make obese children more aware of bone health. Also, they added that it is a serious time for bone mass growth for their age, and any process that disrupts it can have profound effects later in their lives. 

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